Utah Democrat Supports National Fur Ban

People in Utah who care about animals should support Democrat Kathie Allen in the November 7 special election for the state’s third congressional seat. The seat is up for grabs following the unexpected resignation of Republican Jason Chaffetz, who received an atrocious 7-percent rating from Humane Society Legislative Fund last year. While many of her positions are unclear, Allen supports a federal prohibition on fur sales, which, if enacted, would be a major step forward for animal welfare in this country. Her conservative rivals, who likely hold views similar to those of Chaffetz, must be stopped.

In response to my questions, Allen was straightforward in her opposition to fur. “I would support a ban on fur sales,” she said in a message relayed by her campaign manager Emily Bingham. So far as I’m aware, only two US cities — Berkeley and West Hollywood — have the type of ban in place which Allen supports at a national level. It’s a boldly compassionate stance. She wouldn’t, however, commit to outlawing animal circuses across the country. “It would depend upon how much you demonstrated to me that animals are treated cruelly by most circuses,” Allen said. “I would need data.”

She was similarly circumspect when asked whether she would support federal funding for cultured-meat research, saying she needed to look up information on the topic. “I certainly would support it if it is economically and ecologically valid, and found to be safe for human consumption,” Allen said. “I had an animal platform on my initial Crowdpac page. I took it down because people criticized me for caring about animals more than people. I actually do not see it as an either/or choice. We should care about both. I love my pet cats and they are treated royally.”

While Allen has already been chosen as the Democrats’ standard bearer, Utah Republicans have yet to select their nominee for the state’s third congressional district. This will be achieved through an August 15 primary, featuring three candidates — Chris Herrod, John Curtis and Tanner Ainge. Herrod received the endorsement of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a bonafide animal hater, who received a 0-percent rating from HSLF last year. Curtis’ and Ainge’s campaign websites make no mention of animal welfare, and absent further information we must assume they share their party’s retrograde perspective.

For animal lovers, the choice is clear: Allen must be elected to Congress. Her candidacy is a long shot, as a Democrat hasn’t represented the district since 1997. But it’s definitely one worth taking. Whatever hedging she might do on other issues, Allen’s support for a national ban on fur sales would put her at the forefront of the legislative struggle for animal welfare. Activists who care about nonhumans should donate to and volunteer for her campaign, while making clear its her animal-friendly stance inspiring them to do so. In the event she’s elected and doesn’t live up to her commitment, those activists should recruit a more progressive challenger for 2018.

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Second Ultrasound

Amanda had her second ultrasound today. It was awesome — in the true sense of the word — to to see our baby move. I was grinning like an idiot the entire time! 

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In Alabama, Hansen Stakes Claim as Animals’ Champion

Animal activists should support Michael Hansen in Alabama’s Democratic Senate primary on August 15. In Hansen, executive director of an environmental group, Alabamians have a progressive willing to take surprisingly bold positions on animal welfare. If the Humane Society Legislative Fund hasn’t endorsed his candidacy already — which they haven’t appeared to have done — they certainly should. At the time of writing, none of Hansen’s Democratic rivals discussed animal welfare on their campaign websites or answered my requests for information about their views, with the exception of one candidate who provided an unsatisfactorily conservative response.

In an emailed reply to my questions, Hansen said he supported federal funding for cultured-meat research, as well as national bans on fur sales and animal circuses. This would put him well to the left of some of the most compassionate senators currently in office, like New Jersey’s Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, who haven’t made such commitments, so far as I’m aware. Of course, a candidate’s progressive commitments don’t mean a great deal if the candidate can’t get elected. Hansen himself has conceded his chances aren’t good in a post to his website: “Let’s not kid ourselves, this is a long shot  —  I’m 35, gay, and a Democrat  —  but it’s one we have to take.”

Besides answering a few specific queries in his messages to me, the environmentalist suggested he would likely include animal issues in his soon-to-be-released platform. “I haven’t put together an animal rights platform yet,” Hansen said, noting the campaign platform would be made public in the coming days, and he would try to include language codifying his support for cultured meat, a ban on animal circuses and a prohibition on fur sales. “I’ll probably include something about CAFOs as well.” Of course, CAFO is an acronym for concentrated animal feeding operation.

Rival Democrat Brian McGee also responded to my emailed questions, but his answers were far less promising. “I was a farmer and I believe that, as long as one is going to eat meat, animals need to be treated humanely,” the candidate said vaguely. “I believe in developing methods of transporting and killing animals for consumption in a humane way. I believe that much of the current industry does not treat animals as well as they deserve to be treated.” He noted that he participates in blood sports. “I haven’t gone deer hunting in over 30 years,” McGee said. “But I enjoy hunting with my bird dogs when I have time, as I enjoy the beauty of watching a gifted dog point and retrieve game.”

I hope Alabamians who care about animals will vote for Hansen in the special election primary on August 15. Again, aside from McGee, Hansen was the only Democratic candidate in the race who either addressed animal welfare on their campaign’s website or responded to my request for clarification on their views, by the time of writing. The answers he gave me suggested someone who’s willing to take a strong stand for animals. Taken together, federal funding for cultured meat, national bans on animal circuses and fur sales — all things Hansen supports — would represent dramatic progress for animals. We need more candidates like this environmentalist to run and win.

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Baby on the Way

Well, I can finally share the news: Amanda’s pregnant! I’m going to be a dad! We’re both incredibly happy, and can’t wait to welcome our little one into the world.

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Parnell is Best Choice for Animals in SC-5

South Carolinians who care about animals should vote for Democrat Archie Parnell in the fifth congressional district’s special election on June 20, despite the fact he’s demonstrated no commitment to nonhuman welfare. Parnell’s chief opponent, Republican Ralph Norman, doesn’t have a clear record on the issue either, but has been endorsed by a rogues gallery of animal haters. Meanwhile, Green Party selection David Kulma, who represents an organization with comparatively progressive views on nonhumans, doesn’t have a chance to win. Of course, supporting Parnell shouldn’t preclude activists from recruiting more pro-animal candidates for 2018.

The Democratic nominee is a former tax attorney from Goldman Sachs — a resume unlikely to endear him to economic progressives — and has no history in elected office which we can examine for clues about his perspective on animal welfare. So far as I can tell, he’s made no public statements on the matter and at the time of writing his campaign hasn’t responded to a request for clarification on his views. All that being said, because Parnell is a Democrat, we must presume he is more progressive on nonhuman issues than his conservative rival. For animal activists, this is a sad state of affairs. But I believe politicians will more directly address our priorities when we organize and make them clear.

Norman, the Republican candidate, previously served in the South Carolina House of Representatives. A cursory search didn’t reveal much about his positions. In 2006, according to VoteSmart.org, he supported a bill increasing animal-fighting penalties — but this is hardly a controversial stand. More tellingly, Norman is running on the Republican ticket, which, by and large, signals extreme hostility to animal welfare. His campaign website prominently touts an endorsement from Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who earned a 0-percent rating from the Humane Society Legislative Fund in 2016. If Norman’s views on nonhumans are anything like Cruz’s, it would be disastrous for animals.

Kulma, the Green nominee, doesn’t mention animal welfare amongst the long list of issues he highlights on his campaign website. But just like we should assume Democrats are generally more progressive on nonhuman policy than Republicans, so we should assume Greens are generally more forward-thinking than Democrats. After all, the third party boasts a platform which calls for banning puppy mills, phasing out animal testing of consumer products, and a good amount more — though much of it seems overly vague. Sadly, Kulma doesn’t have a credible shot at winning this election, as is often the case of Green Party candidates.

Going forward, I hope animal activists in South Carolina, and across the country, use the Democratic Party as a vehicle to advance their views. Those in the fifth district, who care about nonhumans, should recruit a more progressive candidate to run in 2018 — no matter who wins this year’s special election. Of course, in-state groups are in the best position to identify future prospects. I encourage voters to shoot for the moon during the primary process. Campaign fiercely for someone who wants to prohibit fur sales, end animal circuses, and invest in cultured-meat research. But fall in line during the general election if your choice isn’t nominated.

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Vote Ossoff, While Looking for Pro-Animal Challenger

Georgians who live in the sixth congressional district and care about animals should support Democrat Jon Ossoff in the June 20 special election for an open House seat. Neither he nor his Republican opponent, Karen Handel, seem to have addressed animal welfare in any meaningful way. If only because of the candidates’ political associations, progressives must vote for Ossoff. But that shouldn’t stop animal activists from recruiting more compassionate prospects to challenge the winner in 2018.

At the time of writing, Ossoff’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for the former documentarian’s positions on animal welfare, and his website made no mention of the issue. This doesn’t bode well. Since he’s a first-time candidate, Ossoff has no voting record we can look over to assess his views. What we do know, however, is that he’s a Democrat. While some Democrats are more committed to animal welfare than others, and some Republicans more committed than some Democrats, the average Democrat is much more committed than the average Republican. That’s why, absent any other information, animal activists should support Democrats.

Handel’s campaign website doesn’t discuss animal welfare either. While she has held elected office, I haven’t found much in her record or public statements which might indicate her perspective on nonhumans. She has, however, been endorsed by Donald Trump, whose presidency the Humane Society Legislative Fund called a “threat to animals everywhere.” Similarly, Georgia’s two Republican senators, David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, endorsed Handel. Both have 0-percent ratings from HSLF. Animals can’t afford to have a similar representative in the House.

Hopefully, Ossoff wins on June 20. But, regardless, progressives should begin to look for a more pro-animal Democrat to contest the seat come 2018. Such a person could be a protest candidate — in that their entire purpose for being in the race is merely to inject animal-rights concerns into the political discussion through interviews and debates. But I’d argue a well-rounded prospect with a chance to win better serves animals’ interests. Even if one’s goal is just consciousness-raising, a plausible candidate functions as a superior vehicle for this, as they have more access to interviews and debates. More importantly, though, we need to win to effect change.

Organizations on the ground, such as Georgia Animal Rights and Protection, are in the best position to identify and recruit potential candidates. I hope they will do this. If a good prospect can’t be found amongst local, established politicians, I encourage animal activists to put themselves forward. Obviously, being a candidate isn’t for everybody. For instance, I’m terrified of public speaking and would hate the intense media focus. But if those are pressures which you think you could handle — and perhaps thrive in — consider running! There’s lots of behind-the-scenes work that people like me could do to support you.

We need to get political for animals. In Georgia, that starts with electing Jon Ossoff — a candidate who’s demonstrated no commitment to animal welfare, but is undoubtedly more compassionate than his opponent. However, it doesn’t end there. Activists should support a more pro-animal choice in the district’s 2018 Democratic primary, whether the seat is won by Ossoff or Handel.

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My New Article About VA Governor Primary

Check it out on Splice Today!

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